The Effect of Divorce Law Change on Divorce Rates: A New Perspective

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Title: The Effect of Divorce Law Change on Divorce Rates: A New Perspective
Author: Khalaf, Chrystelle
Advisors: Dr. Denis Pelletier, Committee Member
Dr. Melinda Sandler Morrill, Committee Chair
Dr. Walter Wessels, Committee Member
Abstract: Economic literature attempts to explain the effect of divorce law on divorce rates. Mutual consent divorce law was promulgated in the 1970’s. Although this amendment was a reflection of the social change occurring in the United States of America, unilateral divorce was still feared because some expected it to increase divorce rate. Friedberg and Wolfers made big contributions in this field of study. Friedberg believed that divorce rates have increased as a result of the law change while Wolfers agrees that an initial spike is clear but argues that the effect of the new legislations dissipates with time. I adjust the data they use to take into account separation requirements which they have not considered or merely thought of as an extra cost. Some states did require individuals to separate for a certain amount of time before granting them divorce. I use the same regressions as Friedberg and Wolfers for the same period of time but with a different dependant variable: divorce initiation rate. My results then differ when aligning divorces with the period when they got initiated. I conclude that Friedberg overestimated the effect but that the effect did persist and did not disappear like Wolfers claimed.
Date: 2010-04-29
Degree: MA
Discipline: Economics

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